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The role of technology in cyborg feminism

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  1. The cyborg opposes traditional patriarchal dualisms.
  2. No qualitative difference between human and animal.
  3. Ontological dualism between physical and non-physical is no longer viable.
  4. Haraway's analysis of the relevant conditions of possibility.
  5. Haraway's critical theory.
  6. Haraway's critique of essentialism in socialist and radical feminisms.
    1. Socialist feminism.
    2. Radical feminism.
  7. Revising social relations in terms of science and technology.

Donna Haraway, in ?A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century? casts the role of ?technology' in two opposing lights: on the one hand, technology is seen as something women should (indeed must) embrace as a motivator for political and social progress; on the other hand, technology is seen as another method of control, a way to dominate women in various ?idealized spaces?. Technology functions to mediate ?the impact of social relations? within ?the Home?, ?the Market', ?the Paid Work Place?, ?the State?, and ?the School?. At the center of this contradictory significance of technology as both (1) ?a catalyst for social and political progress' and (2) ?a method of control' is the image of the cyborg: a being that embraces (as opposed to dissolves) the contradictions necessary to its character. The point is for women to start thinking of themselves as cybernetic in the sense that cybernetic organisms are differentially constructed out of mutually exclusive (i.e. fractured) identities.

[...] Haraway's critique of essentialism in socialist and radical feminisms Haraway advances cyborg feminism by way of caricaturizing the apparently inconsistent theories of socialist feminism and radical feminism. The implications of her interpretation can be summed up in the following way: Socialist feminism: labor is a function of its analogy to reproduction, its reference to sex, and its addition in race Radical feminism: sexual appropriation is a function of its analogy to labour, its reference to reproduction, and its addition in race.[13] The most apparent anomaly in each case is the mere ?addition of race' as a possible factor in either wage labor or sexual appropriation: it's as if race was an after thought to the identity of women. [...]


[...] One such constraint is that cyborg feminism must NOT rely on a logic of appropriation, incorporation, and taxonomic identification.?[16] Another such constraint is that cyborg feminists have to argue against the idea of a ?natural matrix of unity? and in doing so oppose any semblance of innocence (innocence means origin, and the cyborg is wholly lacking that) and its corollary: victimhood.[17] Revising social relations in terms of science and technology Haraway's motive in critiquing the socialist and radical feminisms is not merely to exercise critique; rather the critique informs how cyborg feminism could fully embrace both Marxist and radical feminism to the fullness of their opposition.[18] The awareness of the epistemological constraint on cyborg feminism to understand the difficult-to-spot difference between ?playful differences' and ?systematically oppressive differences' proliferates an analysis of domination that takes seriously the polymorphic character of social relations tied to science/technology and is rooted in claims about fundamental changes in the nature of class, race, and gender in an emerging system of world order analogous in its novelty and scope to that created by industrial capitalism.?[19] In order for cyborg feminism to make good on the use of technology as a way to change undesirable and/or detrimental political and social conditions, feminist theorists must rethink how it is that problems are to be framed. [...]


[...] This affinity must be informed consciously, as a response to the domination that technology coupled with ?patriarchal militarism' (i.e. the worldview of the cyborg's father) yields. Haraway says that the need for unity of people trying to resist world-wide intensification of domination has never been more acute. [Cyborg feminism must presuppose that] a slightly perverse shift of perspective might better enable us to contend for [social] meanings The shift in perspective is perverse: it involves the simultaneous adoption of perspectives that are completely oppositional with respect to the history of patriarchal militarism. [...]

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